Away From The Mainstream : Another Week In The Backwaters of Sport

Leicestershire 2nd XI v Nottinghamshire 2nd XI, Kibworth, 8th August

Northamptonshire v Leicestershire, County Championship, Wantage Road, 11th August

This was the week, I am reliably informed by a number of newspaper columnists, when the world of sport – if not our entire sense of national identity – changed forever.  And then – making a truly heroic effort to keep the Olympics off the back page – there was Kevin Pietersen.

My suggestion for maintaining the Olympic Legacy would be for all those columnists who have experienced miraculous conversions to sport this week (off the top of my head I can remember C. Brooker, S. Moore, G. Coren, P. Clark & Z. Williams, though they’re only the ones I haven’t managed to erase from my memory) to commit to writing about sport at least twice a week.  I fully expect to see Brooker browsing in the Friends of Grace Road shop before the season’s out, and Williams – wrapped up in a wooly scarf – trying out Harborough F.C.’s new temporary stand when the winter sets in).

I think the reverberations from KP’s Bombshell that Rocked the World of Cricket (I forget which one it was) hit Kibworth (where Leicestershire 2nds were meeting Nottinghamshire’s) at about 2.35.  The bails were dislodged, the pylons quivered, the tea lady clutched her urn protectively, the cows in the neighbouring field stopped and raised their heads and the Umpire called Dead Ball.

But that might just have been Luke Fletcher starting his run up.  Fletcher is a big unit, looking a bit like Flintoff in the days when he was seriously on the ale or a Polish builder who’s asked if he can have a go at bowling.  He bowls a Heavy Ball, likes a bit of a biff, and seems to have been edged out of the Notts XI by their theft of Harry Gurney.  Wonder if he might fancy a reverse trip across the border?

The other excitement provided by the Notts XI was the diminutive (c. all newspapers), tow haired figure in the cycling helmet who was fielding at short leg.  James Taylor had made a surprise appearance for Notts 2nds in the 1-day fixture at Grace Road the day before (strange to see an England batsman playing a game of cricket without launching a multi-media publicity campaign), but this turned out to be one Sam Kelsall – perhaps being developed as JT’s stunt double.

Although it would be good for morale if Leicestershire could haul themselves off the bottom of the table, the rest of our season is really about Looking to the Future.  A headline in this week’s CricketPaper read ‘Budget cuts will make Whitticase blood kids’  (and at Grace Road, of course, this involves the coach smearing their faces with a fox’s blood before they make their debut).  Jacques du Toit and Nadim Malik have already been ‘given permission to speak to other counties’ and new contracts are yet to be offered to Joseph, Dixey and Boyce (and if we can’t afford Matt Boyce, frankly, I think we really are in trouble).  

So our new crop of talent is being shuffled around from game to game to see who fits.  Rob Taylor, Greg Smith, Jamie Sykes and the returning Jigur Naik turned out for the Seconds (who won).  At Northampton Will Jones and Shiv Thakor played.

As an Australian-born, English qualified Old Harrovian, Jones provides material for a fair amount of beard stroking on Great Issues of the Day. Yesterday was the first time I’d seen him play at any length  and he played a very decent innings as an opener (one of many things we need next season).  Thakor came in at 7 and stabilised what was turning into a collapse.  He must already be a close-to-automatic selection and I only hope we’ve enough money left in the kitty to offer him a proper contract.

The mid-afternoon at Wantage Road saw the appearance of yet another politician trying to make capital out of associating himself with top-level sport.  Ken Clarke turned up, sporting a pair of bright red trousers and an alarmingly red face to match.  He seemed horribly out of breath.  Perhaps he has been following the new party line by doing at least two hours of physical jerks a day?

Barring accidents, yesterday was my last day at Wantage Road this season.  So here is a final look back through the windows of the Turner pavilion (if that’s what it’s called).  On the left of the picture you can just make out Ted Kirwan packing his bookstall away.  Not long to go now, I’m afraid.

In other news, the last time I reported from a mid-August Seconds game at Kibworth play was interrupted briefly by the harvest in a neighbouring field.  No harvest yet this year, indicating a very wet Summer.  Who knew?

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